Hairless in Chilliwack

Marc has been talking for awhile about how he wanted to shave Niko for the summer since he has so much hair. I was never really in favour of this dramatic tactic to keep our dog cool but after a long hot spell last week I agreed to make the appointment. Now I know I may be biased in my opinion but I do think that my dog is one of the most beautiful dogs I have ever seen. His long flowing hair and his markings attract many a comment from passerby's and he loves all the attention they lavish upon him. Here are some pics of my beautiful dog to remind those of you who never check our blog what our dog looks like.

It was hard for me to imagine what Niko would look like with no hair. So imagine my surprise when I went to pick Niko up from the groomers yesterday and saw this pile of hair.

And imagine horror of horros my shock and dismay when I saw what my beautiful puppy looked like after all this hair came off of him. I cannot believe how ugly he has become after a shave. Marc says he is cute but I think it is an ugly cute. You probably can't tell from these pictures but he was apparently bucking around when they were shaving his face so all the hair on his face is uneven and choppy.

My gorgeous puppy is gone, thankfully his hair will start growing back in a month because this is how I feel about the whole situation.

On a more positive note, Niko does seem cooler and has even taken to sleeping on the carpet which I don't think I have ever seen him do. Hopefully I will get more used to him looking like this but for me September can't come soon enough!


what the *&@#?

i dont get it. i am sure i am missing various pertinent details and middle east political subtleties, but here is a very rough outline of lebanon's recent political history as i currently understand it:

1975-1990 - civil war continually exacerbated by outside powers using lebanon as a pawn/destabilizing influence

1990-2004 - the country is dominated by syria politically and militarily

2005 - the cedar revolution - after a slow burn of protest and steady economic improvement lebanon experiences a popular uprising and boots syria. the US holds up lebanon as a shining example of the success of its middle east policy in iraq and claims to support the current govt. pro US/pro western feelings are at an all time high.

june 2006 - hezbollah is politically active in lebanon but only in the minority. although it operates in lebanon, its support rate is 29% (according to the globe and mail) and its main power base is in syria. beirut is swinging once again and regaining its reputation as the paris of the middle east (i remember a patient in edmonton telling me how the ladies in lebanon dress to the 9s). apparently it is one of the most free and open of the arab states.

july 2006 - 2 (count them, 1, 2) israeli soldiers are captured by hezbollah fighters. israel retaliates by bombing the entire country concentrating on airports, bridges, ports, government institutions, power plants, communications towers etc. thus reducing to rubble most of the infrastructure that allows modern societies to thrive. lebanon looks to their new buddy george w. to help them out but he sides solidly with israel.
inside 1 month support for hezbollah has grown to 87%!!!!!!!!!!!!! (again according to the globe and mail) lebanese with political clout who had previously supported moderate govt and peaceful ties with western nations now look like idiots and traitors to their countrymen. thus far they have been left high and dry.

what is going on here? i think i left my conspiracy theory days behind me a couple years ago but i dont get it! why did the kidnapping of 2 soldiers (hezbollah has been killing bombing and kidnapping innocent people for years) ostensibly set off a massive air strike and potential ground invasion? and how can the israelis possibly believe that alienating/destroying an entire country that did not even support their enemies (but does now) would solve the problem? and why did the US (and harper for that matter) condone the whole thing?

i am trying to come up with reasons but all of them veer wildly into conspiracy theory and radical conjecture b/c IT DOESNT MAKE SENSE!!!!!! i am left looking for answers in the globe and mail and various online news sources and listening to rage against the machine... zack de la rocha please come back and help me channel my anger and frustration!

along that line (the online news, not my plea to zack) i realized a while ago that a big reason to link to our blogosphere was to make it easy for us to access all the blogs that we read, not necessarily to connect previously disconnected people. while scrolling through my history to find the article i was reading the other day i realized that people link to other sites for the same reason, hence i am adding links to my main news sources for my own benefit and to declutter our bookmark bar. i'm all about parsimony.

as a canadian sidenote (and a story that has a particularly canadian angsty self deprecating edge) i would like to highlight some local news that i have been discussing with a couple of you guys lately. a few weeks ago the CBC announced that it was pushing "The National" back an hour to 2300 to allow for a simulcast of the next big thing, a clone of american idol called "the one". this ticked me off as i (along with a lot of others) had been bemoaning the decline of the CBC and this was a slap in the face, albeit one that did not directly affect me in any way. in my opinion, CBC's job as a govt sponsored broadcaster is to provide quality programming even when the general public is demanding crap (thus the public funding to make up for lost ad $$). in pushing out their flagship (that word has come up a lot lately) news program to make way for a 2nd rate american pop culture copycat wannabe, the CBC was clearly stating that they are now diametrically opposed to the function for which they were created and funded (a fact which i had been suspecting given the decline in quality of their radio programming recently).
with this in mind i had a serious rush of "i told you so" vindication when i read in the paper this morning that, after taking a lot of flack for putting their $$ and hopes behind this shining example of crass copycat band wagoning (who made this decision anyways?) ABC just announced that they are cancelling "the one" after just a few episodes (poor potential "ones") which leaves CBC high and dry and looking just a little stupid. maybe this will be the kick in the pants the CBC needs to get their act together (apparently the president is a chretien appointee with little to no media experience).

lastly i just came across this article about a town in pennsylvania that has just established openly racist civic laws to keep their town white. wow. canadians are racist too, but the fact that this town feels able to break through the antiracist social taboos says something.


lighten up!

i;ve been thinking alot lately about the fact that what we think is based on what we know. our brains have developed to make important decisions on limited information. it is a survival skill both on the savannah and in the city. however, many of us get stressed out when we dont have a complete handle on what is going on. the brain could handle this problem in at least 2 ways. one way would be to gather data and weight pros and cons and do obscenely huge calculations for most of our decisions, from what house to buy to where to place our next footstep. the other option is for the brain to make a quick rough calculation based on limited data and then just lie to our conciousness and make it feel like we have weighed the consequences and made a rational decision. the brain has many shortcuts in place to facilitate this calculus. one quick example of a shortcut is the use of categories. we dont have to ponder the large fluidly moving cannister of muscle padding toward us (hmmm.. its a bit bigger than that panther thing i saw last year, and it has funny dark stripes on its back and a scar on its... aaaaaaahhh!!), we just have to think "shape = panther = run like hell and trip your neighbour". the exclusive or inappropriate use of this particular shortcut can lead to things like racism and stereotyping. other shortcuts can lead to other signifigant lapses in logic but i will have to leave that for another time. on the flip side these shortcuts are vital to our functioning in daily life and we dont give them enough credit.

this is playing into my thoughts lately in 2 ways:
1. we dont always know what we think we know
2. what we think we know is only as accurate as the scope of information we have been presented with and have assimilated into our neural networks

these 2 categories further inform 2 different information sources i have been considering
1. media - see previous post
2. blogs - notwithstanding the early adopter move into blogs as current event sources, i am thinking here more about information on a personal/social level. my buddy steve (who i value for always trying to undercut my beliefs and question my (occasionally) wild pronouncements) was arguing that blogs are poor social info sources b/c most people present their best self and also the information is one way. the return is fully optional and at the discretion of the reader.

i need to go to bed so i will not elaborate further, but possibly you can see where these thoughts are taking me given my current state of mind...

anyways, on to the real reason for this post (see title). perhaps i have convinced you all that kylie and i are wallowing in despair. this is simply not the case... why, just this weekend we made a trip with niko and shawn and his sister chelsea to cascade falls near mission. a 45 min hike up the creek bed (past many beautiful falls and swimming holes) led to this amazing swimming hole featuring a 15 foot natural waterslide that dropped you another 10 feet into a (semi) deep pool. there was also a fallen log with convenient grip tape on it that you could walk precariously out on and leap into the pool. we had a fantastic time beating the heat (37 degrees C) but niko just got stressed out by all the people hurling themselves into the deep frothing water. his protective instincts were kicking in so hard (initially he watched intently as every person went down the slide and then went over to check that they were all right as they exited the pool) that eventually he just lay down and put his paws over his eyes so he didnt have to witness it anymore. seriously.

i would also like to underscore my love of creepy crawlers... these are from the montreal insectarium. the white blocks are ~8-9 inches wide.

lastly, i am taking the plunge and wearing my furor causing striped pants (or sassy pants as katherine dubbed them) to work tomorrow. its hot and they are cool (very cool :-), and plus kylie has assured me that i can only pull them off in flip flops, which is a great excuse to dress down in the summer. wish me luck... to my knowledge i have never seen a male in the hospital wearing striped pants (this is chilliwack folks) also, as some have astutely noted, they are totally without cargo pockets, a big step for me.



israeli kids excited about helping fight the war on terror

kylie and i (along with a sizeable portion of the informed world i'm sure) have been beset by bouts of frustration and despondance about the current state of world politics and the current violence in the middle east. it seems we can either think about it and be depressed, or forget about it and live in our own little bubble world of inconsequential hopes and concerns.

lebanon was finally digging their way out of decades of deprivation and now their citizens are suffering and im sure record numbers of terrorist recruits are making their way to various meeting points across the world. these tensions may be caused by other countries (no names needed) and take place on the other side of the world but i suspect the results will be felt everywhere.

how can 2 essentially good countries (i hope) full of essentially good people (i assume) act in such a psychotic manner? disregard for other lives and a lack of empathy are 2 essential characteristics of both psycho and sociopaths.

the worst part however (for us comfy westerners who arent getting bombed) is our impotence in the face of this tragedy. i am really feeling like we can make no difference. so should we just continue buying ice caps and going mountain biking and hiking and swimming in cultus lake? or should we spend all day fretting and hand wringing? maybe we should just work to be informed.

The Daily Star, one of lebanon's relatively free newspapers, recently published this excellent short summary of the current powers at play in the middle east.

also my friend lisa just sent us this interesting article by a rabbi who has some level headed ideas for change.

back to the question of how essentially good people could let this happen, kylie and i have been talking alot about the limited information available to americans about the actions of their own government and the actions of other countries, not to mention how the rest of the world views them. i remember visiting the states and looking for the international section of idaho's flagship newspaper only to find out the entire international section consisted of one small article about idaho's interaction with some country and a 4 line AP blurb about US economic ties with another country, both sandwiched between 2 giant ads for luxury cars and $5000 watches.

I just read this article about how much the US govt tries to hide from its own citizens (in the case of FEMA dropping the ball in new orleans) and our friend rob recently linked to this long but very well written article about the mainstream american news media's collusion in the fraudulent election of george w (both times).

holy heck! what are we supposed to do?
please advise, we are feeling confused and alternately depressed and disconnected (and while disconnected i sure enjoyed wake boarding on cultus lake today).


elk mountain

we hiked up elk mountain on the weekend with our friends shawn and karen. it was so steep that it was easier (and more fun) to run down, but our quads were sore for 3 days after.


Procrastinating with Marc's new duds

Why do we humans procrastinate? Why can't we just quickly accomplish something and then go on with our day but instead we do a million other things and then nothing really every gets accomplished until a deadline is upon us. Sadly right now I have no deadline upon me. The house will not catch on fire if I don't clean it (which would be a great invention for me though because it would get me to clean) and I have no marking laying around to get me to clean. It's so funny, if I have marking to do then my house is immaculate but no marking gets done. Now I have a house to clean and here is what I have done this morning instead of starting to clean it:
-Check blogs
_Read the archives of our blog
-Watched and read the news
_E-mailed Grace to go to Ikea (maybe if I get some organizational tools my house will miraculously be more organized right? right?)
-Decided against cleaning the kitchen because there is no music down there, then thought about burning a cd but couldn't decide what music to put on it
-Put away some clothes from our trip to Montreal (about 5 minutes worth) when it reminded me of our shopping trip in Montreal.

Those of you who know Marc knows that he hates to shop. I don't remember the last time we went to the mall together -
I did see him in the mall once in Vancouver with some fellow residents but they were just walking through to get to another street. Anyways when were in Montreal we decided to go on a shopping trip. I remembered that when Shareen was in Europe she really raved about a store called H and M. I saw someone with an H and M bag in Montreal and looked up the store and found out it was in Montreal. We went on one of the days we were there and Marc cashed in! All the clothes looked great on him and they were the style that he likes. I stopped trying clothes on after a while because I kept liking them all. I would like to show you all this one picture from our trip. Marc did buy this oufit (I'm sure he will curse me for calling his new clothes an "outfit") and I really wish Josh did because the two of them would have looked so cute and trendy walking around Montreal together.


Posting Crazy

Okay, we have been going a bit crazy with multiple postings lately (not as crazy as megan though!) but it is so fun. We had a great anniversary - we went to the Zoo in Vancouver and then out for an excellent dessert here in Chilliwack. The zoo was lots of fun - we both hadn't been to a zoo for quite a while and we saw an excellent Birds of Prey Show. We had a picnic lunch by the pond and then Marc got into a staring session with a panther. He (not Marc, the panther) was VERY intimidating and I was wishing there was more than a thin wire fence between us. Marc even got hissed at when he ran back and forth really quickly.

Afterwards we had a dessert sampler plate. All restaurants should have a sampler plate - you get three desserts and can get an idea of what is good on the menu. In this case we didn't have to worry about whether they would be good or not, they were excellent! The sampler tray came with mango cheesecake, vanilla creme brule (I think I could eat this forever and not be sad mmmmmm....) and a fudge like cake. Here are some pictures of the day:



well we have many more tales to tell from our trip to montreal and happenings since but i want to write about our crazy reentry while it is fresh in my mind.

first some context from our return voyage. after staying in montreal we stopped in edmonton for 3 days. we stayed with my sisters and hung out with old friends. julie and carlynne hosted a killer bbq in their backyard for which fatima picked fresh raspberries and saskatoons at considerable risk to her person. we then checked out the action downtown with ty.

our final morning in edmonton started out very relaxed with an enlongated breakfast with fatima at the sugar bowl. our meal was elongated b/c smart fat advised us to phone ahead and we found that our flight was delayed 1.5 hrs. when we finally got into the air it was a bumpy ride. we have been flying a lot lately and this was the bumpiest flight in a while. lots of thrilling free fall stomach in your throat/perineal tingle moments.
about 20 min into the flight the stewardesses asked if there was a doctor or any medical personnel on board. there was a lady in the back who was unconcious and unrousable. with the help of a nurse from ft. saskatchewan (who lives next to the sheepranch we posted about earlier) and a firefighter from edmonton we determined that the lady was pretty sick and started treating her. at one point the stewardess asked me, "the captain wants to know what we should do... if you decide in the next 30 sec we can land in kelowna, otherwise we're stuck in the air until abbotsford where we can have an ambulance waiting. its your call." crazy.
once we got to abbotsford (i didnt want to stop in kelowna) they wanted to sit her up and put her seatbelt on and i said no way. "but its regulations!! if she's not wearing a seatbelt the captain cant use the brakes. we'll have to land on a different runway out of turn!" well she's not moving, so put a belt around her waist somehow and do what you have to. (the fireman and i actually volunteered to brace ourselves infront of the lady but the stewardesses were aghast at the very idea). so we bumped the other flights and flew straight into the airport from east to west instead of taking the usual roundabout approach.
after seeing the lady (who was looking better) into the ambulance kylie and i went to pick up our chevette from the parking lot. last time we flew home and tried to pick up the chevette it turned into an afternoon scavenger hunt so we were looking forward to knowing precisely where it was parked and avoiding any more drama for the day. however when we started the car we noticed that it had NO gas despite our prophylactic fill the day before our trip. in fact the gas cap key was missing and the gas cap itself was all scarred up by a screwdriver. at least the window wasnt broken. we barely made it to a mohawk (coasting on fumes for the last block and a half) and got the lock open with a screwdriver, pipe wrench and skinny little worn down car key. once the lock was open the car wouldnt start. we played with connections and banged on the starter for a while before finally starting the car with a boost. we then filled up with the car running and left to get niko.
no more drama, we picked up niko without incident and were happily and enthusiastically reunited.

here are some more pics from montreal... what an amazing week.

taking a break from biking along the st. lawrence

our room at the auberge de la fontaine which initially turned me off with their snooty attitude and high price, but won me over with their incredible complimentary stocked (i mean STOCKED!) kitchen, beautifully breathtaking breakfast and our perfectly positioned personal porch (i suppose it was technically a terrace but i am an avid alliterati) overlooking the park.

while framing this picture i was exclaiming about the texture of the wall, but that is not why i took it.

josh's temporary appt and our new friends.


Happy Anniversary to us!

Today Marc and I have been married for five years. It has gone by so fast! Marc is the best husband ever (I'm sure some of you may have to contend with me, thinking that your husband is the best husband ever but today is my anniversary so I will win.) He's fun, he's stable, he's a great listener, he knows what buttons to push to drive me crazy :), he knows how to calm me down when I'm mad (even though sometimes I don't want to be), he tells me everyday how beautiful I am and how much he loves me. Happy Anniversary Marc!

PS. Carlynne said that she was very impressed that we had made it to five years with no kids! It is quite an accomplishment.:) To those of you pining for them, I promise they will come in the next five years.


montreal part I

beautiful weather, fantastic friends and free music all over the city!


Why do we do this to ourselves? and a Hodgepog of other things

June has been absolutely crazy with business around here and as I was enjoying the end of June yet cursing it at the same time when I realized that I must have a love/hate relationship with being busy at the end of June evidenced by the following:

June 2001 - Preparing for a wedding
June 2002 - Preparing for the end of first year of teaching and going on a road trip to California
June 2003 - Leave for Uganda the day after school is over
June 2004 - Move to Chilliwack the day after school is over
June 2005- Leave for Newfoundland the day after school ends
June 2006 - Leave for Montreal three days after school ends.

I think every year I swear that the next year I will not do this to myself but every year I do. We also have had a lot of residency socials and been out of town five weekends in a row so I am really looking forward to being home. I am also looking forward to Montreal too.

Even though we have been busy it has been a lot of fun. We recently celebrated Marc's birthday with a hike up Mount Thom and then we went putting at the putting course. Marc had the day off we we had lots of time to spend together.

Friday was my last day of Middle School. I don't mention too much about school on our blog but I must say I enjoyed my year with my students immensely. I was very intimidated by teenagers at the beginning of the year mainly because I didn't have much experience with them. Even though there were days when I found them extremely annoying for the most part I really enjoyed them. They are all very funny and I got a kick out of them most days, as it brought me back to the really sillly things I used to do in juniour high. I sure am looking forward to six months off though. WOO HOO!

Lastly, Marc and I went to Cirque du Soliel yesterday (it was awesome!) and had a great dinner and jazz concert with friends. Even though driving into Vancouver is annoying it sure is nice to get together with friends.